WHEN Japanese artist Mao Sugiyama had his privates sliced off and served to diners for £160 a head, he became the highest profile member of a small but growing band of 'nullos'.
The bizarre act is thought to have inspired members of a nullos movement arrested this week in North London under suspicion of carrying out illegal castrations and streaming the ops online.
The seven men, between the ages of 30 and 60, allegedly carried out amputations in a basement flat in Finsbury Park and filmed the procedures for a pay-per-view channel promoted on Twitter.
The group's leader, who was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm, was said to call himself the Eunuch Maker.
It’s a shocking example of a global subculture which is growing in popularity, and encouraging amateur surgeons – known as cutters – to carry out illegal operations, often with disastrous results.
In some extreme cases, Nullos – short for genital nullification or voluntary eunuchs – have even shown cannibalistic tendencies, keeping the lopped off body parts in the freezer to eat.
'Thousands' of Nullos worldwide
Dr Richard Wassersug, professor of urology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, has studied voluntary genital modification and was a contributor to a study on the cutters who perform the illegal castrations.
“More than half of the [surgeries] that are performed in the absence of a medical need (like testicular cancer or traumatic genital injury) or for gender affirming surgery for transwomen are not being done legally,” he tells The Sun.
“Depending on the type of surgery, the dangers are substantial.”
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There are an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 voluntary nullos worldwide, although due to the secretive nature of the surgery, the actual number is unknown.
Two-thirds never tell anyone they don’t have genitals, including their family, the study found.
In an online chat, the so-called Eunuch Maker claimed there was a community of “tens of thousands” in the UK.
He said he had wanted to have all his genitals cut off from a young age, so he could be “smooth like a ken doll.”
Those who seek the surgery are often heterosexual or gay men, while some see themselves as asexual or are seeking to be a “third gender”.
Others may be suffering from extreme xenomelia – known as foreign limb syndrome – or body integrity identity disorder (BIID), when they see a part of their own body as alien and unwanted.
Psychologist Emma Kenny, founder of We are Appy, says: "There are various reasons why someone would go down this route.
"Sexual trauma can be a trigger, resulting in an individual feeling at odds with their sexual organs.
"As in any sub culture there is an opportunity to feel part of a community who understands you and this can take a passing thought process and reinforce it to a point that creates a fixation, ultimately consuming the individual to act upon this compulsion.
"It is likely that these individuals are suffering from BIID and believe that the removal of their sexual organs will bring them a level or emotional and psychological relief."
'I can't wait to get rid of the excess body'
Social media sites and online forums have a growing community of self-styled “eunuchs” and ‘nullos” open looking for amateur orchiectomies (the removal of testicles) or penectomies (the amputation of the penis).
One social media user wrote: “Every day I wake up and pray the penis is gone – but it exists.”
He added: “I can't wait to get rid of the excess body.”
Another said he was “looking for women to support me in getting penectomy as a body modification”.
Professor Wassersug’s study found that, while transwomen could access surgery, there was a lack of medical help for “individuals who wish to be emasculated but do not identify as female”.
However, seeking body modification from a cutter was found to come with a high risk of infection or excessive bleeding, with many ending up in the emergency ward.
Many cutters came from veterinary or farming backgrounds, where they experienced the castration of farm animals and most had been castrated themselves.
Dark boasts of 'cannibal cutters'
Worryingly, a survey of 2,871 from the eunuch community suggested some have sexual motives, finding cutters were three times more likely to have been charged with sexually inappropriate behaviour than non-cutters.
One cutter calling himself Gelding admitted he only assisted in the procedures because he does not trust his own motives.
He told San Francisco Weekly he wanted to “help other guys avoid the problems” after being castrated himself in 1994, but added: “In another respect I must admit to a certain amount of sexual excitement from the whole idea.”
In a more extreme case, two men in Oklahoma who were arrested after performing an illegal castration in a wooden hut in the woods boasted about being “cannibals”.
Police were alerted after a man from Virginia was driven to hospital, bleeding heavily after having both testicles removed in October 2020.
Bob Lee Allen, 53, and his partner, Thomas Evans Gates, 42, were arrested after medical equipment, bloody refuse, drugs, and body parts frozen in a bag were found at their remote cabin.
Allen allegedly bragged that he had killed a man he had “opened up to die overnight” during surgery and joked that if he died on the table, he would be dumped in the woods.
He also told the victim “he was going to consume the parts and laughed and said that he was a cannibal", as well as inviting him to try eating body parts himself.
Allen was jailed for 12 years but Gates, who had handed him tools, walked free after serving a year in jail.
Psychological coercion or free will?
At the time, the local police said there was no evidence of a “cult” and, following the arrest in London, British members of a eunuch forum also dismissed such claims.
Ian Hawarth, of the Cult Information Centre, tells The Sun he hasn't heard of voluntary castrations as part of a known cult, but said “mind control methods” frequently used by leaders meant it was possible.
“With techniques of mind control, or psychological coercion, you can get people to do anything,” he says.
“These techniques break a person down and the cult can completely control that person, in a very short period of time – usually just three or four days.
“From that point on, they are a different person and they’ll do anything a cult wants them to – even if it involves self mutilation.
“If it is a cult, using mind control techniques – tragic as this is – is not surprising.
"But we have no history to go on, so we don’t know if people involved went through the medical procedures of their own free will.”
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